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Lord of the Wings
Author: Nick Como
Published Date: 05/04/2022
2021-22 Season Winners
1. Steffi E.
7,210,110 Vert. Feet
2. John G.
6,403,135 Vert. Feet
3. Dawn F.
3,622,372 Vert. Feet
How do you ski 5 million vertical feet in a single season? One run at a time would be the answer. 2020-21 “Lord of the Wings” contest winner, Greg Sherry, did just that last winter—coming a “mere” 1 million feet short of the world record.
If you were to do the math (we did) on what 5 million vertical feet equates to, it looks something like this: 1,720 Tram laps or about 2,740 runs up and down Gadzoom. Not that you could do it even in a full season, but if 35,000 rides up and down Chickadee sounds like fun...ok, we’re kidding on that one. Sherry, who insists on efficient use of his time, prefers Little Cloud to maximize vertical. Along with a morning hot tub session to loosen his muscles, he was able to ski 136 days during the 2020-21 season—missing only a couple dozen days due to a broken rib.
Several times throughout the season Snowbird hosted a weeklong vertical contest dubbed “Lord of the Wings,” where skiers and riders track their days and vertical feet. At the end of the week, top rippers on the leaderboard are rewarded with premium swag and prizes. Sherry, along with second and third place finishers Steffi Eyerkaufer and Dawn Fowler, say the key to tracking their vertical, meeting up with their ski groups and comparing stats with other skiers and riders was the Snowbird app.
One might think contests of this sort would cause skiers to ski faster or out of control, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Safety is a top concern across all of Snowbird’s operations, and at the end of the day, recklessness wasn’t at all how things played out. In fact, ski partners and carpool buddies Eyerkaufer and Fowler did not even know there was a contest—until they received an email from Snowbird saying they had won!
This is what the diehards do—they head to the hill and make turns: no need for any digital encouragement. If you want the vert, you have to ski it: simple as that. Skiing seven days a week, bell-to-bell, is a lofty goal. But challenges like this put locals and visitors alike on equal footing. Same for age and gender as teens, spring-breakers, retirees and hardcore passholders alternatively captured the weekly contest title. It’s only when work or family obligations call, toes are too cold for a 4:30 pm Wilbere lap or the spring slush has heated up that they call it a day.
What the app also proved helpful for was the ability to see where other members of one’s group were out on the mountain and what lifts had shorter wait times. The group tracking feature is a game-changer. We’re all familiar with the missed text messages of where to meet coming through mid-run when you’ve already pointed your tips towards a different direction than your group. With the Snowbird app in hand, only one person needs to pull out their phone and see which lift a family member is riding up or what trail your best bud is headed down.
Communication is paramount when it comes to skiing, from lift lines to open terrain and road conditions. The app integrates all of this information in a format easy for the user. Thinking about dropping into Gad Valley? See the current wait time at Gadzoom and Gad 2. Wondering if and when the rope will drop into Mineral Basin? Check.
Having each of these tools in the same interface was a priority in creating the app. The software designers placed a premium on usability and the result is an app that informs a day on the mountain like no other. Rather than switching between tracking apps, texts and phone calls and scouring social media for beta, the Snowbird app fits each of those bills. Including a range of core features meant the app was popular from the day it was launched in November 2020, which also provided instant feedback to the resort on what worked—and what didn’t. As regular app users, Eyerkaufer and Fowler were key in noticing some small bugs —and their constant usage and feedback has helped make it better for each update.
Whether you’re competing with friends, a lover of statistics, trying to wrangle a group or simply want to stay in the know, the Snowbird app is key to your success. In a society where we almost always carry our phones, don’t miss a single terrain update, track all of your days and compare season over season right from your pocket. Your friends will think you have a friend on the inside.
In a way, you do.
About the Author
Nick Como traded the skyscrapers of NYC for the peaks of the Wasatch almost two decades ago. You can find him skiing powder in winter and on a river or single track across Utah in summer. He still doesn’t understand why Utahns ruin pizza with ranch or pineapple.